Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Friday, July 3, 2009

Why do we need to pray?

In every religion and culture, people pray. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists do. You and I pray everyday even though we do not really know. Before we speak of the great prayers of holy people, let’s explore the little ones…Our own prayers. When my son asks me for a favour, he does not say “I pray” but “Please.” When at work your colleague asks you for a service she says “please.” Your boss sends you a request for a task that must be done and still he says “please.” When some stranger lets me get off the bus ahead of her, I say “thank you” When my wife cooks a meal I like, I say “thank you” to her. Yesterday my eldest son bought me a nice shirt – I wanted to kiss him because he thought of me. Prayer does not have to be explicitly defined. It is innate in everyone from the little baby who needs the affection of his mother to the oldest living person who needs the care and love of his/her family. The little baby cannot say “please” yet his mother responds with giving him her affection and love. The same with everyone. It is not only private but also communal. When someone excels at his services whether at work, in the community, or in Church, people gather around him and praise him. They celebrate his services and give him a gift to recognize his contribution. We see all the above forms of prayer in every place. Prayer of supplication, thanksgiving, and praise. Yet this is only the beginning. Here is the important message: Every one of us is imperfect. He/she needs the other. Psychological studies show that a person cannot live by himself alone. People have to be in communion. Some people do this more intensely than others. They reflect on what they pray. They spend time by themselves at home to meditate. They even call on God. They talk to God even if for one minute everyday. All this is done out of need. Did you know that recent scientific research was able to find the origin of language but is unable to find the origin of worship? All humans need to worship. From the stone age to this day man worships. Prayer is only a form of worship. The development of prayer over the ages included deep meditation. In Christianity, this started with the Desert Fathers in Egypt and was brought to other parts of the world by imitating the first Fathers. .St. Anthony of Egypt is believed to be the first in a tradition that spanned the entire Christian civilization for many centuries. Many orders developed out of this deep connection to God who are still serving the world in prayer, thought, and service including the Benedictines, the Franciscans, the Jesuits, the Basilians, and many more. To-date, there are many monasteries in the world. At a deep spiritual level, monks have the courage to spend months and years praying to God. Again their prayer is meant to submit to the Father their supplications for the human needs both material and spiritual, their thanksgiving for everything we receive, their praise of God for his outpouring love that in spite of our shortcomings and sinfulness he continues to provide. The greatest miracle of all is that God loves us to the point that he came to us. He created us out of love, He became one of us and dwelt among us in Christ and he continues to dwell among us in the Holy Spirit. This is what all Christians believe. However the most enriching prayer is that of the Eucharist where the community offers thanksgiving to the Triune God. Furthermore it is the sacrificial act of God himself (who empties himself continuously in eternity by that eternal love of the Father and the Son through the Spirit). God the Son himself offers thanksgiving and sacrifice on our behalf to the Father and at the same time He is the One offered through his body and blood by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Mass, the entire Church prays the prayer of supplications, the prayer of thanksgiving and the prayer of praise. She is united to her head Christ and with him offers the gifts to the Father through the Holy Spirit. This is why we are encouraged to take the body and blood of Christ since it is really present on the altar. We need however to be careful that we receive it only when we are in the state of grace (i.e. not in the state of mortal sin). When we receive the body and blood of Christ it is there that we partake of the Divine (Theosis). Do we need to pray? Yes we do – We already do it everyday, albeit at beginners level, but we need to recognize, and deepen it in our souls through the one who said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14: 6)

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


See Links to Websites Below